A VERY STABLE DUMBNESS: Rational animals just wanna have fun!

MONDAY, JANUARY 20, 2020

The dumbness of the times:
In Saturday's print editions, the headlines sat at the very top of the New York Times' front page.

Journalistically, they came from a traditional place. The headlines read as shown:
U.S.D.A. Tries To Relax Rules On School Food
Easing Meal Standards Obama Encouraged
Journalistically, the headlines came from a traditional place. Sadly, though, the headlines weren't entertaining enough. They weren't catchy, or a whole lot of fun.

The headlines sat atop a news report by Lola Fadulu, who's two years out of college (Amherst, class of 2017).

Fadulu is currently at the Times as part of a one-year "fellowship program," the successor to the paper's intern program. Especially if she can escape from the Times, she may go on to have a brilliant career, and we hope she does.

At any rate, the news report by the very young scribe sat at the very top of the Times' hard-copy front page. But at the modern New York Times, the editors want us to have fun!

To a striking degree, the modern Times is devoted to dumbness and the silly. Perhaps for that reason, Fadulu's report now lives forever, enshrined online, under headlines which are dumber but more engaging:
Trump Targets Michelle Obama’s School Nutrition Guidelines on Her Birthday
The Agriculture Department proposed a rule that would further unravel nutrition standards set by Mrs. Obama when she was first lady.
Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! Some editor took those drab, gray headlines and made the readership's experience a lot more fun!

The headlines in the print edition came from an older world. In effect, they told a certain story "straight:"

The USDA was trying to relax certain rules concerning food served in schools. The proposed changes would ease standards which had come from the Obama Administration.

So the print headlines said. By way of contrast, the headlines which will live forever make the whole thing more fun. All of a sudden, Michelle Obama's birthday lay at the heart of the tale!

In fairness to the headline writer, Fadulu's report did begin with a rather shaky focus on the widely-admired former first lady's birthday.

The youngster had no idea whether the birthday was relevant, in any way, to the events at hand. But so what? She started with the birthday anyhoo, thus making the story more fun:
FADULU (1/18/20): The Trump administration moved on Friday to roll back school nutrition standards championed by Michelle Obama, an effort long sought by food manufacturers and some school districts that have chafed at the cost of Mrs. Obama’s prescriptions for fresh fruit and vegetables.

The proposed rule by the Agriculture Department, coming on the former first lady’s birthday, would give schools more latitude to decide how much fruit to offer during breakfast and what types of vegetables to include in meals. It would also broaden what counts as a snack.

A spokeswoman for the department said that it had not intended to roll out the proposed rule on Mrs. Obama’s birthday, although some Democratic aides on Capitol Hill had their doubts. Food companies applauded the proposal, while nutritionists condemned it, predicting that starchy foods like potatoes would replace green vegetables and that fattening foods like hamburgers would be served daily as “snacks.”
Some Democrats had their doubts—or at least, that's what they'd said. We'll note that the unnumbered doubters were just aides, and that their names were withheld.

There is no sign that the unnamed aides had any idea what was true. But so what? At the Times, this manifest bit of piffle led the front-page report. Under the guidance of an editor who mercifully remains unnamed, that's the way the young reporter ended up deciding to start.

The young reporter had no idea whether Obama's birthday was an actual part of these events, but it did make the story more fun. It also tickled prevailing tribal feeling, in which our sense that The Others are very bad makes it hurt, and therefore feel, so good.

The young reporter had no idea if the birthday was part of the story. But so what! With the help of an editor who only had at heart her getting lost, the birthday element led her report, then migrated into the headlines.

This is the way the news gets served at the modern New York Times. The modern Times, quite routinely, is a very dumb publication—but given the branding surrounding the Times, the very basic point can be quite hard for liberals to grasp.

As Fadulu continued, she managed to work Sarah Palin into her piece—and also, Eleanor Roosevelt! She quoted emotional language about the way "our babies" get fed.

At times, her news report seemed more like an admiring profile of Michelle Obama than like a report on the topic at hand. We think of sprawling testimonial passages like this:
FADULU: Combating childhood obesity was Mrs. Obama’s signature issue, a rallying cry for her supporters and a lightning rod for conservative critics who saw it as epitomizing the liberal “nanny state” of the Obama era.

Mrs. Obama pressed to update federal nutrition standards and to bring healthier foods to schools.
She planted the White House kitchen garden on the South Lawn — the first real garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s World War II “Victory Garden” — and invited students to sow and harvest it each year. And she created the first Task Force on Childhood Obesity and developed the “Let’s Move!” campaign that aimed to get children to engage in 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Mrs. Obama’s work “improved the diets of millions of children, especially vulnerable children in food insecure households,” said Juliana Cohen, a nutrition professor at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. More students are eating vegetables and whole grain-rich foods because of the former first lady.

“Food waste was a problem before the healthier standards were enacted, so rolling them back won’t solve that problem,” Ms. Cohen said. “It’s just that more people are paying attention to the issue now.”

With nearly 14 million American children, or about 19 percent, considered obese, few doubted Mrs. Obama’s intentions. And with more than 30 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, school meals were a powerful way to target poor diets. Of that total, 22 million children are from low-income families.
"Few doubted Mrs. Obama's intentions!"

In fact, many did something much like that, Over There on The Other Side, Where The Wild Things Are. We base that rather obvious claim on Fadulu's previous statement about conservative critics' complaints concerning "the nanny state."

That said, as Fadulu went on and on, you'd almost think that the widely-admired Michelle Obama had spent eight years as president. Trust us! The way this silly paper is going, they may soon be making that claim, perhaps as part of their ongoing, clandestine "UsToo Project."

On the front page of Saturday's Washington Post, an experienced reporter handled this topic in a much more traditional way. If anything, her report was a bit dry, but it included a great deal more information than Fadulu's report while being a lot less fun.

At the Times, they managed to borrow from the Beatles, saying it was her birthday. In reaction to the report, we received a gloomy nocturnal submission from a group of disconsolate future anthropologists. Their despondent message glumly said this, discussing the years before the onset of Mister Trump's War:

"It was at the Times that Death by Dumb joined hands with Death by Woke."

In truth, the modern Times is a purveyor of a very stable dumbness. We'll offer comically awful examples every day this week.

Tomorrow: Go ahead! You can laugh out loud! The editors couldn't decide!

34 comments:

  1. The Times's approach successfully attacked Trump. A liberal friend commented "ketchup is a vegetable!" -- having got the message that the changes made by the Trump Administration were harmful and dumb. Without knowing what the Trump changes are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. C'mon now. Trump isn't a petty little shit, who acts like a 5-year old.
      Oops. I'll come in again.

      Delete
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      Delete
  2. The NYT “couldn’t make up its mind” and so endorsed two female candidates, one who is very low in the polls.

    They are no longer a serious news organization. They’re theater.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are the propaganda arm of global corporations. Just like the rest of the corporate-owned media (or what the rest of us call "the media"}.

      Delete
  3. "The proposed rule by the Agriculture Department, coming on the former first lady’s birthday, would give schools more latitude to decide how much fruit to offer during breakfast and what types of vegetables to include in meals. It would also broaden what counts as a snack."

    Horrors, horrors! The infidels are storming the castle!

    It's clearly stated in the Liberal Bible that deciding what counts as snack is the Federal prerogative!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha ha.
      As if the entire Republican Party shouldn't eat a bag of dicks.

      Delete
  4. No, the prerogative is healthy food. And if it takes government intervention with the money the government is providing for these meals, it is definitely their business. Mao would prefer that kids, like him eat junk, which explains how Mao got this way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You sound like a demented old lady, dembot. How many cats do you have?

      Delete
    2. Relax, Cecelia.
      Just because the NY Times didn't endorse a Klansman for President doesn't mean it isn't owned by Right-wingers.

      Delete
  5. Somerby wants us to believe that Trump is not mean-spirited enough to roll back a measure that helps kids, just because Obama enacted it. But we've all seen Trump talk and read his tweets. Of course he is that vindictive. And it is surely no coincidence that this was announced on the birthday of the First Lady whose cause this was.

    Why does Trump care enough about petty stuff like this? Because he is a bigot who hates the idea of an African American president. He is doing everything else he can think of to erase the Obama presidency. Why not this?

    But Somerby thinks the NY Times is manufacturing this to please liberals. And he says liberals are going: "yay yay yay" when we are actually going "oh no no, why would he do this to the kids!?!" Liberals don't think these headlines, real or fake, are funny or exciting or a triumph. This stuff makes us sad, and angry too, but mostly sad because it is hard to sustain anger for as long as it has been warranted.

    Somerby wants us to think that Trump's vindictiveness is all in our minds. That Trump is being vilified by the press. Who else thinks that? Conservatives. It is their whiny refrain whenever Trump is caught being Trump. And why is Somerby writing yet another post about how the NY Times dupes liberals by maligning Trump? To gaslight us and make us think conservatives are normal? But it doesn't work. All we have to do is listen to Trump to know why this announcement was made on Michelle Obama's birthday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s remarkable that you could write this after the Times, instead of throwing its considerable editorial heft behind a candidate and working to make the case for her election, is content to get jiggy and oh-so-woke with it by endorsing not one, but TWO chicks! Yay! Yay! Yay!

      The NYT is happy to play cute, cool, and unserious and to keep you very angry, but toothless.

      Delete
    2. ' And why is Somerby writing yet another post about how the NY Times dupes liberals by maligning Trump?'

      Because Somerby is a Trumptard, naturally. He hates the NYT (as most conservatives do) because they won't worship DJT, Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan the way he does. He comes up with bogus reasons for this, but his goal is as clear as that of other Trumptards -- sow dissension among liberals, and help to re-elect Trump.

      Delete
    3. Cecelia, pretending to be a liberal to get liberals angry at the NYT is Somerby's schtick.

      Don't try and emulate it by pretending you care that the NYT is not endorsing one candidate or that it is leaving people 'toothless', as you claim . I doubt anyone other than deadrat will fall for this supposed concern ..

      Delete
    4. Centrist, I’ve never spent one second here pretending to be liberal.

      Unlike you, I’m able to harbor political positions and read at the same time.

      Delete
    5. @cecelia

      First off, the commenter is discussing the USDA story, not the editorial, and makes some correct points.

      But...So, “woke” means endorsing a woman? Or two women? If they had only endorsed Warren, would that still be “woke”? If “woke” by definition means endorsing a woman, then the term has no meaning.

      The Times editorial was stupid, as many are. Liberals in general despise the worst aspects of the Times, particularly their political reporting. So there’s that.

      As far as being “angry but toothless.” Who says the anger is toothless? Anger is a significant motivating factor. We have no less a sage than Somerby who constantly tells us how anger at liberals drives votes for Trump. And as the 2018 House results show, it can also drive people to vote for Democrats. That isn’t a sufficient electoral strategy, but it’s hardly negligible, particularly with a historically polarizing president.

      Delete
    6. Yes, the result of wokeness generally is a preference for appearances over pragmatism. More often than not, woke is talk rather than action.

      In the meantime, instead of spending precious time in advancing a candidate via its influence over the national discourse, the Times is content to keep diehard Democrats angry, rather than focusing on convincing Independents to vote on a candidate.

      And you’re content to call that helpful.

      Delete
    7. 'Centrist, I’ve never spent one second here pretending to be liberal. '

      Well, you certainly did a nice emulation of Somerby above. But then again, like (if not so great) minds think (using the term later loosely) think alike ..

      The point is that your comment on what the NYT did should be treated as seriously as TDH's comments on the NYT (i.e. not at all), since you and TDH share the same goal of seeing Dems lose.

      Delete
    8. 'First off, the commenter is discussing the USDA story, not the editorial, and makes some correct points. '

      Anon 4:16, discussing the USDA story won't allow Ceceila to sow doubt and dissension among liberals, the way TDH tries to do. hence the diversion to the dual nomination BTW, I have not read the NYT editorial for years, and have read maybe 5 opinion columns in the last 4 years, so it's not like I care to defend the NYT.

      Delete
    9. @cecelia
      Your concern is duly noted.

      It’s entirely possible that the editors don’t like either Biden or Sanders, despite their lead in the polls. The endorsement of two candidates isn’t “woke” just because the candidates are women. Maybe it’s just feckless. (And to be clear, Woke involves sensitivity to race and gender—your definition was incomplete). You’re just mind reading and ascribing motives here anyway.

      Also, about independents:
      44.6% of independents support removing Trump.

      They can also be swayed by anger at Trump.

      Also, Democrats flipped 40 seats in 2018. They turned red districts blue. The anti-Trump sentiment helped switch votes from R to D in 2018, as well as independents.

      Delete
    10. “Your concern is duly noted.”

      My concern is that we have a media that manages to somehow juggle fatuousness with mendacity.

      My puzzlement is that people come to this site regularly to read the blogger, and then ignore the largest portion of what he has to say.

      Delete
    11. "...and then ignore the largest portion of what he has to say."

      Ignore away. You can read those same Rightwing grievances in the corporate-owned media.

      Delete
  6. If Somerby wants to see a gleeful reaction to the USDA announcement, he should check out the online right-wing reaction. They are ecstatic that it came on Mrs. Obama’s birthday. You see, that allows them to “own the libs.” That is a significant factor for Trump’s base.

    The chances that the timing was a coincidence are slim to none, but the USDA will never admit to that. They’ll just snicker as they deny it.

    And if Somerby thinks that the objection to Mrs Obama’s guidelines was mainly a principled objection to the “nanny state”, then he has had his head buried in the sand. The depth of personal hatred of Mrs Obama from the right was astonishing.

    That said, perhaps a news report such as this one in the Times feeds the feeling on the right that the libs have been owned, so perhaps no mention needed to be made of any connection with Obama’s birthday, although it is also important to examine the actual motives of Trump and his administration. Are they really making their decisions for such petty reasons?

    Finally, the sad things is that the right wing who are so busy cheering this “owning” of Michelle Obama don’t seem to understand or care that it is America’s schoolchildren who will be “owned” by being less healthy. That includes some of their own children.

    Stupid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'And if Somerby thinks that the objection to Mrs Obama’s guidelines was mainly a principled objection to the “nanny state” then he has had his head buried in the sand.'

      One should not use the word Somerby and 'think' in the same sentence.

      Somerby does not have his head buried in the sand, it is firmly buried in DJT's backside.

      Delete
    2. 'The depth of personal hatred of Mrs Obama from the right was astonishing. '

      Not astonishing to Somerby, since he hates liberals, AA women as much as the right does. But then, he is a Trumpturd.

      Delete
    3. "... it is America’s schoolchildren who will be “owned” by being less healthy."

      Republicans: They are who we thought they were.

      Delete
  7. Today, Somerby shows how much he cares about schoolchildren.

    ReplyDelete
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